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Plants May Be Able To Correct Mutated Genes

timothy posted about 9 years ago | from the early-stages dept.

Biotech 363

ddutt writes "NY Times is running a story that talks of an exciting new discovery, which, if confirmed, could represent an unprecedented exception to Mendel's laws of inheritance. The discovery involves.. 'plants that possess a corrected version of a defective gene inherited from both their parents, as if some handy backup copy with the right version had been made in the grandparents' generation or earlier.'"

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363 comments

Planet RAID. (3, Funny)

caluml (551744) | about 9 years ago | (#12028932)

It's just plants copying RAID or PAR files. This is nothing new - we've had those for years now.

So what happens to gentically modified plants? (1)

buro9 (633210) | about 9 years ago | (#12029106)

Will they mutate over several seasons back towards their original form?

Re:So what happens to gentically modified plants? (1, Funny)

buro9 (633210) | about 9 years ago | (#12029137)

clearly i cannot type... ignore the spelling mistakes you grammar/spelling nazis... instead think of better input devices to prevent so many silly typos ;)

keyboards, how antiquated

Re:Planet RAID. (4, Funny)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 9 years ago | (#12029144)

It's just plants copying RAID or PAR files. This is nothing new - we've had those for years now.


Copying? If it bothers you so much you can always sue them for patent infringement. Of course the plants might lawyer up and come back at you claiming prior art....

How this impacts evolutionary theory (5, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 9 years ago | (#12028933)

FWIW, the paper this morning was pointing out how this discovery might leave a gaping hole in evolutionary theory. The crux of the problem is that "micro-evolution" as it were, is dependant on an organism's ability to mutate from generation to generation. If a mechanism exists that prevents or corrects mutations across generations, then the theorists may *again* have to go back to the drawing board.

Isn't it amazing how the more we know, the less we know? :-)

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (3, Insightful)

filmmaker (850359) | about 9 years ago | (#12028963)

Unfortunately, that will be the major headlines coming across the Fox News screen..."Evolution flawed: mutations don't occur. Jesus weighs in on Bill O'Reilly tonight!"

But the reality is that they don't know what causes this, they don't claim that it stops mutations on the whole, and they don't know if it stops all mutations. As per the article, it may only stop harmful mutations.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (2, Insightful)

jazman_777 (44742) | about 9 years ago | (#12029091)

But the reality is that they don't know what causes this, they don't claim that it stops mutations on the whole, and they don't know if it stops all mutations. As per the article, it may only stop harmful mutations.

I expect a long series of posts detailing a lot of thought experiments and speculations on how exactly evolution uses this, many outright contradictory, none observed. Just more Evolution of the Gaps from the Crowd of Lawyer-Wannabes.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (3, Insightful)

thefirelane (586885) | about 9 years ago | (#12029133)

it may only stop harmful mutations.

Granted, I have just an armchair knowledge of evolutionary theory... but isn't that a little off point? I thought the point of evolution was the organism doesn't know which mutations are harmful, many are tried, and the ones that work survive.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (1)

Kiryat Malachi (177258) | about 9 years ago | (#12029219)

Nope. That's the idea behind natural selection; actually, it's the combination of random mutation and natural selection, which is part of evolutionary theory, but by no means the entire parcel.

mod parent up (1)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | about 9 years ago | (#12029222)

I was gonna say that, but the parent beat me to it.

how would a plant 'know' which mutations are harmful and which are beneficial?

a: it wouldn't

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12029245)

> Granted, I have just an armchair knowledge of evolutionary theory... but isn't that a little off point? I thought the point of evolution was the organism doesn't know which mutations are harmful, many are tried, and the ones that work survive.

Now while they can not predetermine which genes are good and which ones are harmful, they certainly can tell during lifetime if they are suffering or doing great - and on those variables decide whenether the genes should be reverted back for the offsprings or not.

this way you'd get a bit into the "inherits only good stuff" mechanics

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (4, Informative)

shawb (16347) | about 9 years ago | (#12029293)

Think of it this way: this ability stems from a mutation in and of itself. All that it does is checks for a flaw in a certain sequence and fixes it. Probably this particular sequence has a high probability of being detrimentally mutated, and so having the repair mechanism makes it more likely that when the mutation happens, it won't kill the whole organism.

An organism repairing it's own DNA is not unheard of. There are certain somatic (IE: not passed down from generation to generation) mutations and other varieties of DNA damage that lead to cancer. There is a mechanism in place to replace these mutations with another copy. The body also has a way of detecting and removing some viruses and retroviruses that have embedded themselves in the DNA of the host organism, to a limited extent.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (4, Insightful)

rob_squared (821479) | about 9 years ago | (#12029197)

Exactly, science doesn't work like that. If a part might be, or is, wrong, that doesn't invalidate the entire theory necessarily. Evolution is somewhat like gravity. We have all this obvious evidence, but the underlying stuff is kinda misty. Newton knew gravity existed and made some nice laws. Einstein said why those laws work. String theory is a more comprehensive way of explaining Einstein's theories. Science changes, because it needs to.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (3, Insightful)

filmmaker (850359) | about 9 years ago | (#12029253)

Science changes, because it needs to.

Right. But also, because is those changes. Science is not some dogma, it's a process. So, for anyone who wants to get snarky about "holes" in evolution, well, no pooh-pooh Sherlock. It's not about authority or control, science is, instead, a process by which we attempt to attain and refine knowledge.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 9 years ago | (#12029256)

There's nothing in basic evolutionary theory that says that the methods of inheritance we know of (DNA/RNA) are necessarily the only ones, nor that these molecules necessarily work solely in the currently observed ways. This may be a big opportunity to see some alternate forms of inheritance. The fact is that these plants are still imperfect replicators, just slightly less imperfect than most other observed replicators. Our understanding may be revolutionized as far as Mendelian inheritance, but nothing in this falsifies evolutionary theory, or the observed instances of evolution.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (1)

FidelCatsro (861135) | about 9 years ago | (#12029283)

Thats all we need , Creationalist plants that refuse to evolve just to prove a point.
Seriously though , i left biolgy behind years ago as a possible avenue of study however this is extremly intresting , If we could isolate the gene that is used to check for equality (or genes which i would more suspect) it would be intresting in the field of cancer prevention , just imagine a hormone treatment that could scan your healthy genes and make a comparison against them and terminate any rouge cells. Ofcourse in a pure sci-fi writter vent what if people used these hormones already set to attack rouge cells for one person and inject them into another person ... its a new scary sci-fi plot.
(c)me

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12029295)

Of course, there will be no such article coming from Fox News (not even an unsatirized counterpart to what you suggested) but, of course, on slashdot the important thing is to lump together all the groups we hate (conservatives, Christians, etc.) and post/mod up antagonizations of them at every opportunity.

Honestly, where the heck does Fox News come in except that there was an opportunity to belittle them?

I post anonymously because I've learned too well that people around here are quick to jump on the "-1 overrated" mod whenever someone steps outside the political orthodoxy.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (1)

jdavidb (449077) | about 9 years ago | (#12029302)

Ah, yes. All the mechanism has to do is make sure that it only reverses mutations that have the Evil Bit set.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (1)

Koiu Lpoi (632570) | about 9 years ago | (#12029327)

The question becomes, how does a plant honestly know a harmful mutation from a benificiary one, in the span of one generation? Unless, the plants have some inborn performance monitoring system, and backup copies of genes. Very interesting, if true.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12028964)

Fuck you, fucking creatonist.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12029029)

"Flamebait, but needed to be stated"

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (5, Insightful)

cot (87677) | about 9 years ago | (#12028975)

This would only be true for these specific plants and only if this mechanism ALWAYS prevented mutation.

If these conditions applied to us, we wouldn't have cancer.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (3, Interesting)

mOoZik (698544) | about 9 years ago | (#12029005)

But couldn't it be that those who possess the backup gene - for example, against cancer - may not develop cancer, even if their parents did? Obviously, this is only in plants and has not yet been confirmed, but how is this any different from a gene that's turned on or off? If the backup gene is turned off, what good is it? If you can turn it off, why can't you turn off the bad one? I'm obviously not a biologist, but maybe someone can take a swing at my silly queries.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (4, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 9 years ago | (#12029037)

If these conditions applied to us, we wouldn't have cancer.

Cancer is caused by a DNA mutation that your body failed to correct. Errors are extremely common. The only reason why we survive is our body's repair mechanism. In the case of these plants, neither parent had a correct gene. Without a backup copy, there should have been no way for the gene to revert. Yet it did, so we're left with an odd conundrum. :-)

That's not to say that the theories behind mutations are all wrong, but we could be seeing something akin to problems with Newtonian physics.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (4, Interesting)

DogDude (805747) | about 9 years ago | (#12029095)

And just to add to your post, from what I understand from all of my doctor/veterinarian friends, cancer in the human body, at least, is quite common. We are simply able to, like with virus and bacteria based diseases, able to fight them off/correct them before they get out of hand. Full blown "Cancer" only happens when these problems get out of control, and the body can no longer contain/fix them.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (1)

shawb (16347) | about 9 years ago | (#12029357)

I really don't see this blowing the lid off of evolutionary science in the way that relativistic/quantum physics did to Newtonian physics. This simply seems to be a repair mechanism which has been put in place to mitigate where a certain mutation (I'm guessing this mutation is harmful) occurs. The body is known to have several DNA repair mechanisms, although most of these seem to be for somatic (not passed down to offspring) mutations.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (1)

heauxmeaux (869966) | about 9 years ago | (#12028990)

Perhaps there is a differentiation between a 'useful' mutation and a harmful/useless one.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (2, Interesting)

einstein (10761) | about 9 years ago | (#12028991)

from what I read, the backup only gets "restored" if the plant is stressed. this would allow for error correction, but allow "happy accidents" to advance the species.

Perhaps it's a result of evolution (2, Insightful)

PornMaster (749461) | about 9 years ago | (#12028992)

DNA containing redundancy certainly isn't efficient, so perhaps it's something that happened *because of* evolution, and doesn't negatively impact evolutionary theory, just requires that we modify our understanding of it.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (1)

asoko (657763) | about 9 years ago | (#12028999)

According to the article, it doesn't prevent all mutations, only the ones that put the plant under stress. Bad mutations stress the plant and trigger the restoration of the backup copy.

the 'correction' is rare, thus no impact on theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12029004)

The corresion only happened in 1/10 cases -- so for the most part, it doesn't affect evolutionary theory; if the 'corrected' gene is bad, then it only gets 'fixed' in a minority of cases; it's not like this correction always happens.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (1)

caluml (551744) | about 9 years ago | (#12029072)

The paper this morning was pointing out how this discovery might leave a gaping hole in evolutionary theory.

That's OK. Queue the religious zealots bringing their so-called "Gods" to fill that hole. :)

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 9 years ago | (#12029118)

This doesn't pose any more of a problem for evolution than cockroaches with tough-as-nails chromosones. Why would a backup copy of genes demonstrate any flaw or hole in the theory? I realize that once the no-brain science journalists get their hands on it, the quacks and liars at the Discovery Institute will be blathering on, but perhaps you could demonstrate how this realistically is anything other than a pretty neat adaption.

Of course, it could spell disaster for the plants in question if environmental conditions change substantially and they are too locked in to specific genetically-determined traits. Variation ain't necessarily a bad thing, even if it means the odd delerious mutation.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (1)

Phil246 (803464) | about 9 years ago | (#12029148)

could just be another mutation, except back the way instead of forward. if its the one gene being changed, then its got a 1/3 chance in getting the gene it had before back in the next mutation, assuming its this gene mutating again

No, not really (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12029167)

For the people who, ah, read the paper, if this particular gene (HTH) is mutated, then a whopping 5% of the second-generation genes manage to revert to the wild type. The other 95% are still mutant. So this mechanism (which is normally masked by the presence of a normal HTH gene) provides for a small number of mutant offspring to revert to wild type, so that a deleterious mutation won't completely destroy the population it occurs in. To disprove "micro-evolution", you'd have to show that this mechanism used to be turned on in every organism and operated at ~100% efficiency rather than 5%. Don't bet on it.

Now, this is definitely a pretty cool discovery, and there's going to be a stampede of people hunting around looking for some sort of, say, RNA copy of the genome hiding somewhere in Arabidopsis, and there will be a lot of fun in epigenetics. But it isn't going to destroy evolutionary theory, although I expect creationists (excuse me, "intelligent design theorists") will be running around for decades insisting that because this phenomenon exists, it's impossible for mutations to happen.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (1)

proteonic (688830) | about 9 years ago | (#12029231)

I'd say it doesn't impact it in a very significant way. Basically this suggests certain genes are replicated (which is nothing new in an evolutionary sense), what's interesting is that the organism can detect mistakes in both loci of a gene, and correct them. What's not really clear is whether the oranism is actually altering those damaged genes, replacing the damaged copy with a functioning copy from nearby locus, or silencing the damaged copy in favor of an undamaged copy at a nearby locus. The latter seems the most plausable. Regardless of which it is, evolution continues as normal, there's just an extra error correcting mechanism to add to the model. Enzymes that replicate DNA have error correcting activity, too, since replication itself is inherently error prone. Remember, it's the mutations that are not detrimental to the organism's survival, those that provide a selective advantage, that are considered steps "forward" in an evolutionary sense.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12029241)

No... This merely says that evolution has brakes in a sense. If things are getting out of control, some species have safeguards to put a bit of a halt to mutations. Perhaps very vital mechanisms in the DNA have this property of self-correction. It is logical that some genes are more dynamic than others in their ability to mutate. For instance height is more likely to mutate than say, thickness of the skin. Thus enters: meta-genetic DNA, which I'm sure these scientists will get to eventually.

This only supports evolutionary theory, and show yet another complicated dimension.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (1)

14erCleaner (745600) | about 9 years ago | (#12029244)

TFA does say that the self-correcting genes may only occur in non-sexual organisms, like arabadopsis (the plant everybody studies), or frequent slashdot posters.

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (1)

null etc. (524767) | about 9 years ago | (#12029262)

FWIW, the paper this morning was pointing out how this discovery might leave a gaping hole in evolutionary theory.

Probably not. We're still learning all about various aspects of genes, DNA, and evolution.

For example, did you know that plants can activate certain genes in response to stressful conditions?

Did you know that bacteria strains can hypermutate in response to conditions in which that bacteria might otherwise die out?

Here are a few links I've just Googled. None of them are the original research papers that I read a few years ago, but they should provide any interested reader with a good starting point:

Plants activate genes [biotech-info.net]

Plants and bacteria strains [innovationalberta.com]

Re:How this impacts evolutionary theory (1)

imploded_monkey (820187) | about 9 years ago | (#12029280)

RTFA. "But up to 10 percent of the plants' offspring kept reverting to normal." The other 90% carry the mutation.

Re: How this impacts evolutionary theory (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 9 years ago | (#12029354)


> $SUBJECT

Probably minimally.

> If a mechanism exists that prevents or corrects mutations across generations, then the theorists may *again* have to go back to the drawing board.

Except that we have overwhelming evidence that zillions of mutations have accumulated over the history of life on Earth.

We're already aware of epigenetic [wikipedia.org] effects that you inherit along with your DNA (i.e., you develop from a fertilized egg that is a working system rather than just a passive data repository), and this appears to fit in the same category. So while fascinating, and presumably even important, it isn't likely to rewrite any textbooks, let alone overthrow any well established theories.

Also, it's going to take the scientific community some time to digest and evaluate this. As someone said on talk.origins a few hours ago (\me quoting from memory)

The article wouldn't be in
Nature if the title was "Back Mutation Found in Plant".

Parity bits? (4, Funny)

aristus (779174) | about 9 years ago | (#12028947)

ECC DNA? That's pretty damned cool. hard to believe we hadn't suspected that before.

no, RNA backup (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12029038)

the article didn't suggest parity bits, it suggested RNA backup

Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12028949)

Maybe it was a defective defective gene, so it then wasn't not non-defective.

Finally. (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12028951)

Finally some INTERESTING news on Slashdot. Fuck was today ever boring.

Plant Superheroes! (5, Funny)

The Amazing Fish Boy (863897) | about 9 years ago | (#12028954)

I'm gonna start putting my cactus near my spider plant and praying for some of that mutated gene action.

OK, OK... and some hot plant-on-plant action.

OK, OK... and some hot plant-on-plant-on-me action.

Re:Plant Superheroes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12029077)

OK, OK... and some hot plant-on-plant-on-me action.

Why do I never have mod points when I really need them? That's some plus-five-funny shit.

Hmmmm, like RAID for plant genes.. (0, Redundant)

the_rajah (749499) | about 9 years ago | (#12028955)

Now is that RAID 1? I never can keep those straight.

Seriously this is a very interesting development with important implications.

Re:Hmmmm, like RAID for plant genes.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12029085)

Its iroic that a post about raid got modded "Redundant".

Wait a minute.... (1)

the_rajah (749499) | about 9 years ago | (#12029154)

I posted this when no replies were showing. It may be redundant, but certainly not intentionally so. Give a guy credit where it's due. I have mod points, too, and try to use them with some common sense.

Plants May Be Able To Correct Mutated Genes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12028959)

Or maybe not.

Nobody really has a clue yet.

Oh, that's going to be a problem (4, Funny)

Dark Paladin (116525) | about 9 years ago | (#12028972)

Odds are, now the grandparent plants are going to have to sue the grandchildren plants for having "stolen" their copyrighted and patented genetic code. As we've learned from Beatallica and Dangermouse, mixing older generations of information to recreate it anew is against the Laws of Copyright Nature.

Who gave these plants permission to make backups of their grandparents material? I mean - really!

OK - seriously, this is a fascinating idea, one that hopefully is indeed correct and can be explored. With this information, perhaps 20 years from now we can correct genetic abnormalities by having fetuses fix themselves. Kudos to the researchers for their hard work.

They said it might be from RNA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12028977)

but it could be a huffman code in the DNA.

could this.. (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | about 9 years ago | (#12029003)

Could this some how be manipulated to work with humans as well? We could stop cancer right off, sure several disabilities in a family bloodline and so much more..

Obviously they would make a law against this though because no one wants "super humans" let alone humans without defects.

Makes Sense (5, Insightful)

latent_biologist (827344) | about 9 years ago | (#12029011)

Most Plant genomes are crazy complex. Besides that, polyploidy is often the norm [ncsu.edu] in plant chromosomes. With that much genetic material to work with, i guess you'd be bound to find a 'do-over' someplace.

Re:Makes Sense (3, Insightful)

GAATTC (870216) | about 9 years ago | (#12029047)

If you read the actual article, you will find that: - The research was performed in Arabidopsis, which behaves as a diploid - There are no other copies of the hothead gene which could have corrected the mutant copies There is something more complicated going on here

Re:Makes Sense (2, Insightful)

D3 (31029) | about 9 years ago | (#12029096)

Yes, but this was seen in Arabidopsis (Mustard plant) which is not a polyploid plant. The article states that when they checked the genome there were no other "good" copies of the gene available to revert to. Both copies of the gene (one from each parent plant) were mutated copies. Yet somehow the DNA got reverted back to the non-mutated "grand-parent" copy in about 10% of the plants.

Sex bias in reporting? (3, Interesting)

GAATTC (870216) | about 9 years ago | (#12029013)

Funny how this story only quotes Dr. (Bob) Pruitt. Most of this work was done by the first author Dr. (Susan) Lolle. The other two authors apart from Bob are both female. In the actual Nature article, this is reflected in the authorship credits. All of the comments in the NYT writeup are from male scientists. Why does the male scientist get nearly all the credit here? On the heels of Dr. Summers' (Harvard) comments that women are inherently less able to succeed as scientists, you would think the NYT would report this big story more carefully and give credit where credit is due.

Re:Sex bias in reporting? (1)

mveloso (325617) | about 9 years ago | (#12029157)

Maybe it's because the reporter didn't have phone numbers for the female scientists, so was unable to call them?

It could be bias, it could be the women were too busy to take the call, it could be that old Bob is a glory hound.

Re:Sex bias in reporting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12029168)

Why does the male scientist get nearly all the credit here?

Because he's the one with the penis, silly!

Re:Sex bias in reporting? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12029266)

Um, I'm sitting here with a copy of the paper in my hand, and Lolle and Pruitt are explicitly marked as having "contributed equally to this work". Furthermore, looking at the departmental web page, Pruitt appears to be the most senior author: he's an associate professor (faculty), whereas Lolle is a research associate (staff). I don't think it's unnatural that they're interviewing the most senior person.

Re:Sex bias in reporting? (1)

GAATTC (870216) | about 9 years ago | (#12029291)

Yah - Like the PI (Principal Investigator) in a lab ever actually does any of the work. They are much too busy going to meetings and writing grants and papers.

Re:Sex bias in reporting? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12029277)

It's always possible that the other scientists involved had no comments to offer.

Don't look for conspiracy where stupidity or simplicity can solve the mystery.

Also, are you REALLY shocked that the New York Times has failed to completely and accurately reflect all of the facts in their journalism?

Re:Sex bias in reporting? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12029343)

Come on people. Why is it that every time there is a woman involved it automatically becomes an issue of gender discrimination????

Most scientific articles have a single author that deals with inquiries and correspondences. Look at the actual paper (Nature, 24 March 2005). The author to which correspondences should be directed is Dr. Pruitt.

Restore point? (3, Funny)

caryw (131578) | about 9 years ago | (#12029028)

Stupid NY Times. The LA Times has an article on it too available here [yahoo.com].

So plants create restore points they can roll back to? I predict Microsoft filing suit against the plant kingdom. They've been fighting the proliferation of tree based products for years!
--
Fairfax Underground [fairfaxunderground.com]: Where Fairfax County comes out to play

How this impacts ME (3, Funny)

ari_j (90255) | about 9 years ago | (#12029089)

This behavior can be observed in humans, too. For instance, my parents were both uncool, unintelligent jerks with no sense of humor whatsoever, and I'm an extremely hip, brilliant jerk with a great sense of humor.

Maybe it's the result of mutation (2, Interesting)

manifoldronin (827401) | about 9 years ago | (#12029121)

Maybe it's just this generation of plant obtained the ability through mutation to make genetic self backups.

I'm pretty close to this research... (4, Interesting)

Marx_Mrvelous (532372) | about 9 years ago | (#12029138)

My wife was second author on this paper, and did quite a lot of the research! I guess that blows my cover ;)

This really is no joke, these results are really exciting! I suggest everyone read the article.

Re:I'm pretty close to this research... (2, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 9 years ago | (#12029205)

It's pretty interesting. It could, from my limited understanding of things of this nature, suggest a secondary means of inheritance. Time from the microbiologists to start digging around.

Never the less, this is not the death-knell of evolution, or in any way contradictory to it, though I know kook organizations like Answers in Genesis and the Discovery Institute will lie their heads off to make it look that way.

Re: I'm pretty close to this research... (2, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 9 years ago | (#12029230)


> This really is no joke, these results are really exciting! I suggest everyone read the article.

Sorry; that's not customary on Slashdot.

All information not in yet (2, Interesting)

ucblockhead (63650) | about 9 years ago | (#12029184)

Before jumping to too many conclusions about this, remember that it is a report of a mutation one gene in one organism. It very well may be very specific to this particulary gene. Worthy of study. Not yet worthy of making broad conclusions.

Read the Proper FA (2, Informative)

whitehatlurker (867714) | about 9 years ago | (#12029187)

The original press release [purdue.edu] is at least visible without a subscription. It also has contact information for the author, Robert Pruitt, for those who have inquisitive natures.

Beware, there are pictures of MUTANT plants here. Watch out for the triffids.

the plants don't actually "correct" mutations... (5, Informative)

xlurker (253257) | about 9 years ago | (#12029212)

just heard this report on NPR.

What was reported is that although there were mutations in the DNA of the plant, its siblings didn't have them anymore. The researcher said that the best theory at the moment is that the non-mutated DNA was coming from the RNA of the plant. IANAB, but I think RNA usually is though to serve only a functional "middle man" role betweeen the genetic code and the cell machinery, and not actively involved in reproduction...

He did not say that the plant was actively fixing its DNA for its offspring.

The non-mutated RNA was itself directly inherted from the parents. In a way the RNA has become a bad backup copy of the DNA. That's the present theory... I guess this is what they'll start looking for... "Bad backup copy" since still 90% of the offspring of the plant still contained the mutated DNA.

Finally... (1)

azmeith (705329) | about 9 years ago | (#12029216)

the invasion [imdb.com] starts...

<oblig>I for one welcome our new florine overlords..</oblig>

-- Reality continues to ruin my life. - Calvin (Bill Watterson)

Holy Hollywood Batman! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12029217)

Because each of the plant's two copies of the gene were in mutated form, they had virtually no chance of having normal offspring. But up to 10 percent of the plants' offspring kept reverting to normal.

It's just like in "Jurassic Park"! What if these horrible "plant" creatures escape the lab and multiply to cover the entire planet?! Quick, let's burn them all, just to be safe.

It is IBM (1)

Imposter_of_myself (636697) | about 9 years ago | (#12029225)

I knew IBM had been working on "self-healing" servers - this must be part of that research - self healing plants ;-) In the future, dual core processors will give birth to quad core processors. The ones that only give birth to three core processors will correct themselves when they breed and will have quad core offspring ;-)

Plants have huge genomes (3, Interesting)

Anders Andersson (863) | about 9 years ago | (#12029240)

I haven't bothered to register to read the article, so maybe this is discussed already: I have been told that plants (or at least some of them) have a lot of DNA due to, among other things, spurious repetitions of partial sequences. I don't have any numbers for nucleic DNA, but I think I saw somewhere examples of plants having more than 100,000 base pairs of mitochondrial DNA, compared to some 16,500 for humans. I guess those repetitions might work as a backup, and help revert an earlier mutation.

I'm not a geneticist by profession though, so what I'm telling here may be an urban legend...

Intelligent Design (0, Troll)

pablonhd (797579) | about 9 years ago | (#12029272)

Why it so unacceptable to introduce the idea of "Intelligent Design" when everything about life is so structured and orderly?

Why is chance so much more believable?

Could it just be that the mutations (1)

hsmith (818216) | about 9 years ago | (#12029317)

mutate back to the original state? could this be a possibilty at all to explain it? my knowledge of biology is limited so i have no idea

Backup Copies Exist for Many Genes (5, Interesting)

jestill (656510) | about 9 years ago | (#12029329)

My lab does research on plant genomics, and we are involved in research concerning the duplication of genes in the plant discussed in the article.Many of the genes that a plant has exist in multiple copies and that is not a new idea. We can follow the evolutionary history of these duplicated copies and show that they often arise from duplication of the entire genome followed by selective genome loss. We also frequently find that single genes are duplicated by themselves, or that entire segments of a chromosome may be duplicated by the process of 'segmental duplication'. The interesting thing here is that the scientist believe that a second copy of the gene does not exist as a DNA copy, but as an RNA copy. That is an interesting hypothesis, that will need to be explored further.
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